By Charissa Luci-Atienza

Lawmakers vouched Wednesday for the leadership skills and track record of Leyte Representative-elect Martin Romualdez, describing him as the “most competent and qualified” candidate in the Speakership race.

Rep. Martin Romualdez (FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

Rep. Martin Romualdez (FACEBOOK / MANILA BULLETIN)

House Minority Leader and Quezon Rep. Danilo “Danny” Suarez and Albay Rep. Joey Sarte Salceda said they are certain that with his persuasion skills and economics background, Romualdez could effectively lead the incoming 18th Congress and ensure that President Duterte’s priority legislation would be passed.

“He is the most experienced and competent candidate and can handily win the speakership race in a free for all fight. Martin is a very credible leader who has the respect of his colleagues. His commitment to help President Duterte, especially in approving vital bills is beyond question,” Suarez said.

Romualdez is the president of the Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) and the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD).

Reports earlier said that the partylist lawmakers decided to narrow down their choices for Speaker to Romualdez and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco of PDP-Laban.

1-Pacman Partylist Rep. Mikee Romero, who heads the 54-strong Partylist Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCFI), said their bloc has no official position yet on who to support for the Speakership race “as we have to meet all our congressmen members by next week.”

“But, we give utmost importance and respect to the sentiments of each and every partylist members. In the end, the Partylist Coalition after the process will still vote as ONE BIG Block,” he said after Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles disclosed that the partylist groups are rooting for Velasco and Romualdez given their strong connections with partylist groups.

Salceda, senior vice-chair of the House Committee on Ways and Means, said Romualdez’s knowledge in economics and financial markets would make him a strong contender and would be beneficial for the country.

“Rep. Romualdez’s decision to join the Speakership derby is a welcome development as far as the country’s economic managers and business leaders are concerned. Rep. Romualdez as Speaker is good for the economy,” he said.

Romualdez earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York and studied law at the University of Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City.

He holds a Certificate for Special Studies in Administration and Management from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass, USA.

Other candidates for Speaker include Deputy Speaker and Pampanga Rep. Aurelio Gonzales Jr., and former Speaker and Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez.